Monday, March 03, 2008

Can San Jose finally attract Latino fans?

On Sunday, 50,000 fans watched two U-23 sides compete in a friendly in Oakland. The fact that Mexico was one of those two sides, explains the numbers. So obviously there are a lot of soccer fans of Latino heritage in the area (there is a non-news flash). Now the question is can the new San Jose Earthquakes develop a relationship with this community that will result in them turning out to 'Quake matches?

The good news is the new ownership did not waste this chance to start reaching out.
Fans streamed through the gates under a San Jose Earthquakes banner. Earthquakes tickets were on sale. And the Earthquakes had a suite filled with key members of the Hispanic community, in an effort to make connections and create marketing opportunities.
The past version of the Earthquakes, like most of the league, failed miserably in their attempts to bring in more Latino fans, however a lot has changed. The league is more competitive then it was in the late 90's, the SuperLiga has brought meaningful matches with Mexican rivals to the schedule, MLS games air on Spanish language TV, Chivas has invested in MLS and Cuauhtemoc Blanco is now strolling the leagues' pitches. So can San Jose exploit this to fill their seats?

Perhaps this answers that question:
The new Earthquakes have much more marketing savvy than their predecessors. They know they have to sell tickets at the grass-roots level, making them available in local markets. They're coming out with a T-shirt and a team jersey that reads Terremotos, the Spanish word for Earthquakes. They know they can't pander to fans or assume a loyalty that hasn't been earned.
Of course all this marketing helps, but the true way to build up a legion of fans in with the play on the field. If the team puts on a good show, even in defeat, soccer fans of all backgrounds will take notice.

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